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History of Hard Drives ... How far they have come !!!

PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2006 10:38 am
by Gaev
This article shows the progress made in the last 50 years ... http://news.com.com/The+hard+drive+at+5 ... =nefd.lede
Quotes ...

- The RAMAC--officially announced on Sept. 13, 1956--weighed 1 ton and stored 5MB of data on 50 spinning platters, 24 inches in diameter ... Manufacturers now sell drives that hold 750GB, or 150,000 times more data than the RAMAC, but they weigh only a few ounces and measure just 3.5 inches across

- The hard drive has advanced about 65 million times in areal density since the RAMAC, and we're still, in my estimation, three orders of magnitude from any truly fundamental limits

- Drive makers have generally managed to double the capacity of their products every couple of years for decades. That's on pace with Moore's Law, but the underlying principles are different. During the late '90s, capacity was doubling nearly every year.

- In 1982, Hitachi shipped the first drive with more than 1GB of storage. The 1.2GB H-8598, seen here, consisted of 10 14-inch platters and two read-write heads. Six years later, Hitachi shipped a 1.89GB drive made from eight 9.5-inch disks, which reduced the kilogram-to-gigabyte ratio from 121 kilograms per gigabyte to 42. Hitachi claimed this later drive was the first mainframe class drive that a single human could carry


Some of you were not even born when the hard drive was invented ... but for someone whose ...

- first use of a hard drive was $100,000 for 100 MB version (1973 ; on a mainframe used by my employer)
- first disk on a mini/micro computer was 5 MB (1975 ; 2.5 MB fixed and 2.5 MB removable)
- first disk on my personal computer cost $900 (1986 ; 20 MB)
- last disk purchase was est. $100 (2006 ; 200 GB)

... this is enough to make a grown man weep with nostalgia !!!

PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:59 am
by Wrangler
Ah, yes. I can remember. I also remember when I got my first 20mb hd for my blazing 8mhz 286, I thought I would never fill it because it had so much storage! :D

And... not only did you have to partition and format the drive yourself, but you had to run a surface test to check for bad sectors, since many shipped with them. Made things a bit tough if you didn't know how to use fdisk or chkdsk.

Can also remember the first time I accidently completely erased my first hd. Was looking at the folder I wanted to delete in File Explorer (win3.1), but "C:\" was highlighted. It asked, "Are you sure you want to delete these files?" and I said "YES"! Since Windows was stupid enough to delete it's own system files in those days, it didn't take long to discover the error. Just click on something.

But, after all these years of hd development, I'm surprised we are still using them. The concept of a little arm flying back and forth at a million miles an hour seeking data, for long periods of time, just doesn't seem the right way to do it, although it works, and quite well.

I remember years ago IBM announced they were developing a "chip" that would replace the hd. No mechanical functions to break (I have lost 5 hd over the years to mechanical breakdown). I believe they said they had reached the 15gig capacity. Then..... you heard nothing more. :(
Flash drives are a form of this type of drive, but speed is slowed down by running it through a port, and delivers nowhere near the potential data throughput as if it was integrated into the motherboard.

In this age of 3.x ghz processors, the hd is slowing down the entire system. The processor is capable of delivering data at 10 times or more the speed the hd can write it. Data requests are also affected by much slower seek time. So, a "chip" hd should be at the top of everyone's list. Have you ever used a ram drive? This is a virtual drive created in your onboard ram. It's fast, real fast. Unfortunately, it's volitile, and is destroyed when you shut down the system.

It's my opinion that for various reasons (mostly greed), hardware technology is being stifled. Some have said that if Microsoft wasn't around, we would be leaps and bounds ahead of where we are now in the PC world. In their efforts to control PC development, many advances were "killed" by MS, meaning the technology was bought out, or just plain bullyness was used to stop development. A deep look into Microsoft business dealings over the years shows evidence of this.

Until we lose the last remaining "mechanical" devices in our machines, and make the whole system "digital", there will always be a bottleneck to slow things down. We also need to lose the greedy developers who wish to "dole out" technology advances, so they can squeeze maximum profit from them. This would take a huge financial burden off the consumer, who finances the little bitty steps in advancement doled out to them. Could improve the economy some.

There you go, Gaev. You got me started. So there's my feelings about the whole deal. :)

Thanks for awakening the walk down PC memory lane (pun intended).

Wow. We really thought we had something back then too...... Look at what we can do now. Slow or not, technology is great.

PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:27 am
by Gaev
Wrangler:

Looks like you are even older than me ... at this PC disk stuff of course ... :-)

Re: hard disks ... and their replacements ...

a) its was only a year (or two) ago that manufacturers dropped installing floppy disk drives in standard configurations ... so the hard disk is here to stay for a while.

b) flash technology is on the horizon ... that will finally replace hard disks ... or be used for the more frequently used data ... I have been reading articles/press releases about notebooks with 64 GB flash (no hard drive) being demo'ed ... price is still too high ... at $30 per GB (retail) you can do the math ... but newer NAND technology (vs. older NOR chips) and the brand new PRAM (Phase Encoding) promise to bring prices down in the near future.

c) Helping this move to Flash storage is a push to run portable applications (and eventually Operating Systems) ... so the PC Harware becomes the information appliance equivalent of a Cash Machine (ABM) ... you stick your Flash Card/Stick into it, run your portable application from your flash device ... and virtually map to the hardware's keyboard/mouse and monitor ... convenient, safe and reliable (as long as you back up your flash storage).

PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 10:05 am
by Wrangler
Gaev, right now I think NO ONE is older than me, but I'm sure I'm wrong.

Helping this move to Flash storage is a push to run portable applications (and eventually Operating Systems)


I have a 1gb flash drive full of portable apps, and yes, portable OS are here. Both windows xp and linux have been scaled down and altered to fit on a single cd, or flash drive. Mind you, you don't get every feature, but it works well.

The notebook you mention intrigues me. A perfect test environment, as laptops are subject to a lack of room, and high operating temperatures. Will have to follow it and see where it leads.

I am suffering from a "data storage overload" at this point. All my drives (6) are full, each 250gb in size. Since DVD burning speed and capacity aren't keeping up with other speedier trends, it is time consuming and somewhat complicated to store this data elsewhere. Just organizing and keeping track of hundreds of DVDs and what they contain is a challenge in itself. A single terrabyte flash hd would solve my problem. :lol: